DePaul University College of Law > Academics > Legal Writing

Legal Writing

At DePaul, legal education is about more than studying cases and theories. It’s about mastering professional skills and gaining the confidence needed to excel in the legal profession.

DePaul’s four-semester Legal Analysis, Research & Communication (LARC) curriculum is a comprehensive introduction to the legal reasoning process. Presented through a series of increasingly complex research exercises and written assignments, the coursework is designed to provide students with tools to hone legal thought and expression.

Students take LARC coursework both semesters of their first year and either fall or spring semester of the second year. The skills taught are interrelated and, as an integrated whole, comprise a unique method of thought and expression essential for lawyers to work successfully in all environments. Each LARC assignment introduces different facets of the legal reasoning process; no single skill functions alone or can compensate for the lack of the others.

Through small classroom sizes, dedicated teaching assistants and individual attention LARC coursework deconstructs the legal thought process and helps students:

  • Develop and communicate legal analysis skills in written and oral form
  • Develop and execute sound, professional legal judgment

Required First-Year Coursework

All first-year students are required to take two semesters of Legal Analysis, Research & Communication (LARC). Each semester is worth two credit hours. Courses are taught by full-time instructors in small class sections that typically number between 14 and 17 students. Each semester, students also attend two private conferences with their instructors to receive individualized guidance on their assignments.

Both LARC I and II require five major writing projects, as well as a number of smaller assignments. LARC I addresses synthesis, analysis, written communication and plain-language drafting in a predictive format utilizing a process approach emphasizing mastery of discrete writing skills. LARC II expands upon this initial instruction and includes research skills and strategy, persuasive writing at the trial court level and reporting orally to a supervising attorney. Students work on increasingly difficult assignments as whole products, rather than component parts as in LARC I. Students also begin learning computer-assisted legal research techniques.

Specialized Sections

Similar to the College of Law’s certificate programs, several of the first-year LARC sections are specialized by subject matter. First-year, full-time students may apply for one of three special sections focusing on child and family law, intellectual property law (including IP Law, IP: Information Technology Law and IP: Arts and Museum Law) and public interest law.

Students in these specialized sections complete the same course requirements as students in the general legal writing sections, but many of their assignments are drawn from the particular area of law. Admission to these sections is very competitive and students may apply to only one section at the time they apply for JD admission. Applicants are notified of their acceptance into the special LARC sections after receiving their letters of admission to the College of Law.

Required Second-Year Coursework

All second-year students are required to take a third semester of legal writing in either the fall or spring semester. The coursework is comprised of five major writing projects and a number of smaller assignments, like LARC I and II.

The purpose of the third semester is to reinforce and deepen the instruction that students received in LARC I and II. Students meet weekly in slightly smaller sections where they are exposed to drafting of trial-level motions, persuasive argumentation at the appellate level and oral advocacy skills.

Upper-Level Curriculum

In addition to LARC I, II and III, all students are required to take an approved upper-level writing course. The curriculum includes courses in legal drafting, advanced legal research and judicial and scholarly writing. These upper-level courses address many essential communication and analytical skills, including contract drafting and revision, research and analysis of complex legal issues, use of sophisticated research sources, scholarly research and writing and client communication.

In addition, students can further hone their research and writing skills while exploring subjects in depth by joining any of DePaul's five student-edited legal journals. These publications include the DePaul Law Review; Business & Commercial Law Journal; Journal of Art, Technology & Intellectual Property Law; Journal for Social Justice and the Journal of Sports Law & Contemporary Problems.